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Op Ed

Pelé: Shame Of Nigeria’s Vagabond Leadership [OPINION]

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Tunde Odesola

With a halo round his head, Pelé packed lightning in his right foot, thunder in his left; the reason his footsteps sparkled, the reason he shone like a million stars, the reason he was named Edson after the inventor of the light bulb, Thomas Edison: the reason he turned football to ‘jogo bonito’ – the beautiful game.

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Pelé was born in the morning of October 23, 1940 when electric light arrived in his hometown of Três Corações, a city in Minas Gerais, light and sunlight heralded the son of light to the delight of mother Celeste and father Dondinho, a foregone Fluminense forward reputed to have scored five headed goals in a match, a record Pelé eyed but could’t match.

Born Edson Arantes do Nascimento but globally called Pelé, a nickname he picked up as a child when teammates derided him for the way he pronounced Bilé, his father’s goalkeeper teammate; Pelé, the misnamed, has become Pelé, the main name.

If the ball was blazing at his feet, it was also magnetic in his hands. As a striker, Pelé was a terror to defenders just as he was a nightmare to strikers whenever he kept the goal, shouting, “Segura, Bilé,” a battle cry to his teammates. Segura means safe in Portuguese language, and the young Pelé was so talented that he was also Santos’ second choice goalkeeper, according to online sports medium, en.as.com.

After 18 years of exotic football at Santos FC, Pelé hung up his boots on October 2, 1974, following his club’s 2-0 victory over Associação Atlética Ponte Preta, and looked forward to life after retirement.

But fate had the first laugh. In a 2013 biography, “Pelé: A Importância do Futebol,” the legend recounts the surprise visit of his accountant. “I remember the moment he entered the house as if it were yesterday. He was sweating profusely. He was pale, he looked like he was about to faint. I could tell something was wrong so I made a little joke: ‘How many million have we still got?’ I nearly had to call the doctor when he replied: ‘Look, this is very difficult…’” Pelé discovered that all his money had gone and he had lost all the 41 properties he invested in.

Never say die, Pelé picked the bits and pieces of his life together, thereafter, and considered the prospect of returning to football and accepting a long rejected offer to play in the US for the New York Cosmos.

Popularly referred to as ‘O Rei’, Portuguese term for ‘The King’, Pelé met a former President and General Manager of New York Cosmos, Clive Toye, in Brussels, where he had gone for an international friendly. On the cliff edge of financial doom, Pelé felt it was time he listened to Toye, who offered him a $2.8m contract when the highest paid NBA player, Kareem Abdul-Jabber, was earning $450,000 a year. Light shone in again.

At 34, Pele, who had retired eight months earlier, debuted for New York Cosmos on June 15, 1975, scoring a goal and providing an assist in a 2-2 draw against Dallas Tornado. For the three seasons he played for Cosmos, Pele netted 37 goals and won the NASL title known as the North American league crown in his final season, swimming out of bankruptcy to financial harbour. Pelé had the last laugh.

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Growing up, Pelé knew the colours of poverty having been apprenticed to be a shoemaker. But football gave the son of destiny his first break when he won the World Cup and played for Santos, and when he faced financial suffocation, football also rescued him, changing his status from penury to prosperity as he made most of his money after he retired from Cosmos.

Thus, Pelé first rose to fame, then slipped into insolvency and later rode onto the pantheon of all-time sports greats, nestling at the apogee of soccer immortality for over 40 years until death sold cancer to Pelé’s colon and metastasized the entrails of the lethal striker. And Pelé kicked the bucket!

Death blew the final whistle on Pelé just when the samba king was about to dribble into 2023, hacking him down in the 18-yard box. Cruelly, death did not give Pelé a penalty, it gave him a red card, marching him out of the pitch of life.

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When Pelé was writhing in pain from the fatal tackle from death, he didn’t run abroad for medical treatment like Nigerian prodigal leaders would do. He stayed in Brazil, taking treatment at the Albert Einstein Israelite Hospital located in Morumbi, southern São Paulo.

Pelé invested his hard-earned football income in Brazil, creating jobs and supporting the economy in a commendable demonstration of patriotism, unlike public treasury-looting Nigerian leaders who stash their heists abroad, refuse to pay taxes and inflict suffering on the masses through multiple taxes and neglect of hospitals, schools and roads.

FROM THE AUTHOR: Ronaldo: Grass, Grace and Grief [OPINION]

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The Albert Einstein Israelite Hospital is renowned as the best in Latin America even as it reportedly ranks in the top 50 globally. It is owned by a group of Jewish community members in São Paulo. If the Brazilian government didn’t provide a secure atmosphere for the hospital to operate since 1971, the hospital would not be a pride of Brazil today, providing top-notch medicare to humanity.

Not only have Nigerian political leaders abandoned healthcare services provided by even foreign experts in Nigeria, they flee abroad to treat dandruff and hold political meetings while commending the masses to utilise decrepit public healthcare facilities they won’t recommend for pets.

As long as telecommunications companies and banks oil legislature palms without ceasing, blindness will continue to afflict legislative oversight functions that should check fraudulent bank charges and insane billing by telecommunication firms. Today, a mere ‘hello’ is costlier than a New Year broadcast from hell.

Brazilian pastors and imams didn’t go online to predict that witches and wizards were behind Pelé’s sickness like fake Nigerian clerics would do. A notorious Nigerian celestial cleric with a chest like a barrel of liquor from the Tibetan region of the Himalayas, shamelessly claimed God told him that France would defeat Argentina in the recent World Cup final, mopping his burnt face and foaming in the mouth like a rabid dog.

Pelé, the winner of three World Cups (1958, 1962 and 1970), still has a mother, Celeste, who is 100 years old. He played football on the streets but wasn’t shot dead by a police officer like pregnant lawyer Bolanle Raheem was shot dead by an accursed Assistant Superintendent of Police, Drambi Vandi.

Before he dropped out of school in fourth grade, kidnappers didn’t storm Pelé’s school to cart away pupils into the night like they did in Chibok, Borno State, and Dapchi in Yobe State.

As a budding player, Pelé was in various football camps, lodging in different hotels. There was no report of Pelé or any of his teammates being molested not to talk of being killed like an Obafemi Awolowo postgraduate student, Timothy Adegoke, was allegedly murdered in his sleep at Hilton Hotel, Ile-Ife.

If Pelé was shot dead by Brazilian soldiers like ‘zombie’ soldiers massacred Nigerian youths at the Lekki Tollgate, how would Brazil have profited from Pelé’s prodigy? Who knows how many Pelés, Albert Einsteins and Thomas Edisons have been sent to early graves by the Nigerian leadership?

As a mark of respect to the late Pelé, I decided to halt the conclusion of the two-part series I began last week, entitled, “Pelé can’t untie Messi’s shoelace (1).” Football tempers flared over the article which garnered thousands of likes on PUNCH Facebook page as well as some criticisms.

I must admit that the conversation over who football’s GOAT is will never end as long as football remains round. But I stand by Lionel Messi; he’s my GOAT. I shall return.

Tunde Odesola is a senior journalist, columnist with The PUNCH newspaper and a guest writer here .

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Op Ed

How to plan your relocation overseas

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The thought of relocating out of Nigeria to countries like the United Kingdom, Canada, Scotland, and others can be a thrilling experience.

This is as relocating outside the country for greener pastures, which is popularly called ‘japa’,  if fast becoming the dream of many of the country’s teeming population of young people.

James Adefemi, a young man in his late twenties is one of many Nigerians who scaled several travel hurdles to start a new life in the United Kingdom.

According to him the decision to relocate to the United Kingdom was both an exciting and adventurous experience that he had looked forward to.

However, nothing prepared him for the financial and emotional challenges that come with migrating to a new country.

While speaking to The PUNCH, Adefemi says, “Relocating out of Nigeria is a very demanding process and I think that’s the part most people don’t get to talk about. It is demanding financially, mentally, emotionally, and time demanding.”

He narrates that his journey started in 2018 after his National Youth service corps. “I decided to travel to the UK for my master’s programme, but money was a major issue so I decided to give my plans one more year so that I could save up some money,” he says.

Adefemi shares that his plans to save did not go as planned, “Considering my monthly salary that year. Anyway, I applied to a few schools and got admission. I also applied for a scholarship that took most of my time because it went from one stage of essay writing to another.

“Thank God for the scholarship because it lifted quite a lot of my financial burden in terms of tuition. It wasn’t a full scholarship so I still had quite some money to pay.”

He laments a major factor that makes relocating out of Nigeria a huge financial burden is the exchange rate. “It’s crazy how you are converting a few pounds or dollars to millions of naira,” he says.

Adefemi’s story replicates the case of many Nigerians looking to leave the country in search of greener pastures and better quality of living

According to a recent by Pew Research survey, an estimated adult population of 45 per cent in Nigeria has plans to relocate to another country within five years.

From the 12 countries surveyed, Nigerians topped the list. A report by the African polling unit in 2021 further revealed that seven out of every 10 Nigerians were making plans to leave the country. But as much as the idea of relocation may be the answer to many problems, preparing adequately is a countermeasure to avoid the strain of leaving the country.

Adefemi explains that, “Apart from the tuition fee, the visa application process was another financial burden., from the visa fee to health insurance even to the flight ticket. At some point, it felt like the expenses couldn’t stop coming. I remember I had to pay for priority visa application because the standard visa application process was taking more time than normal and I needed to be in school as soon as possible.”

 According to him, his family was a major support system during this period and that helped to make the journey easier.

Generally, personal finance experts urge Nigerians to focus on putting up a financial plan for the long and short-term of their migration goals.

Destination country

Former Financial Manager at Wales Bank Asset Management, Racheal Alabi, says that she made research into the cost of relocation.

She says, “I remember a Youtuber mentioning the cost of migrating in pounds and then I hurried to check the equivalent in naira and I was shocked. She spent N12m and this was just on school fees and accommodation, without the cost of other things. And it just dawned on me that people who are relocating have money or had it all planned.”

According to her, the first thing for anyone looking to relocate is to, “research because if I did not do my research, I wouldn’t know that it costs that much to relocate. And that’s where financial planning comes into place.

“For instance, I know someone who is about to relocate and he has been planning for two years now; and that’s because he took the time to calculate the cost of relocating to his destination country.”

Alabi explains that individuals also have to ask crucial questions for relocation to get clarity in order to plan well.

She says,” How much is a flight trip? What am I going there to do? Do I want to study? How much will my tuition cost even if I have a scholarship?”

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It is also important to review one’s current financial status, Alabi reveals. She says, “My friend who has relocated made this decision two years ago but knew at the time that he did not have the financial capacity to embark on such an action. What he started doing was taking on multiple jobs. This is where financial planning comes to play.”

Individuals also need to create a structured budget system to ensure that every relocation goal is met because migrating to a new country largely bothers money.

Alabi says, “You want to have a budget too. For instance, if I know that relocating to the United Kingdom will cost $50,000 and I have only $5,000, so I need $45,000 to go. What should I do? I have to increase my income. But this does not translate into anything if I do not have a budget and massive saving plan.”

Emergency funds

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Alibi says that, “After you leave the country, I emphasise the need for individuals to have emergency funds because you are moving into a new environment. Sometimes it also helps people when they know someone that stays there; it reduces the burden of rent. But the emergency fund will prepare you for any financial shock because anything can happen.”

Emergency funds are stocked-up funds that you can use when you have unplanned expenses.

She adds, “An emergency fund is like money for rainy days. But in Nigeria, some people say it is always raining. On the contrary, emergency funds will sustain you up till the time when you get a stable income and protect you from financial pressure. So, it is advisable to have up to six months of emergency funds saved up.”

Necessary documents: 

Travel Manager, Wayfare Travels, Omoyeni Kolawole, advises that Nigerians who want to relocate should ensure they have all the necessary documents to travel and reside in the destination country.

“This may include a valid passport, visa, work permit, and any other relevant documents,” Kolawole says.

Network

Building a network is a secure way to ensure that you don’t run into any hiccups in the new country.

Kolawole explains, “Other Nigerians in the destination country can help Nigerians who want to relocate to find job opportunities, housing, and other resources. This can be done through social media platforms like LinkedIn, attending networking events, or reaching out to professional associations.”

 Language

Kolawole tells The PUNCH that this is one area that is applicable when Nigerians are travelling to a country where English is not the lingua franca.

The travel manager says, “We do not talk about this enough, it is either you are learning the language of the destination country or you are going to an English-speaking country which limits your options.

“Learning a language can help Nigerians who want to relocate to communicate effectively and integrate into the new culture. They can take language classes, practice with native speakers, or use language learning apps.”

Travel consultants

He adds that Nigerians looking to relocate should “Seek professional advice from travel consultants who are vast in relocation

“Nigerians should research the visa and immigration requirements for their destination country to ensure they have the necessary documentation to enter and reside in the country legally,” he says.

He adds that Nigerians looking to relocate should “Seek professional advice from travel consultants who are vast in relocation

“Nigerians should research the visa and immigration requirements for their destination country to ensure they have the necessary documentation to enter and reside in the country legally,” he says.

By following these tips, individuals can be sure to have a seamless relocation process devoid of unnecessary stumble blocks in form of financial constraints. constraints.

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Op Ed

Oladipo Diya (1944 – 2023)

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Oladipo Diya

he ex-second-in-command did little to support democracy

He would have died prematurely about 25 years ago, following a death sentence for alleged treason.  The gripping drama of his trial by a military tribunal in 1998 exposed toxic disunity in the Gen. Sani Abacha military regime in which he was second in command. Luckily for him, the commander-in-chief died on the eve of his scheduled execution, leading to his freedom.  

Lt. Gen. Oladipo Diya’s death on March 26, at the age of 78, brought back memories of an intensely turbulent period in the country’s history. In 1993, Abacha had ousted the controversial three-month-old Interim National Government (ING), led by a civilian, Chief Ernest Shonekan, installed by the Gen. Ibrahim Babangida military regime after the wrongful annulment of the country’s historic June 12, 1993 presidential election won by Chief M.K.O. Abiola.

Diya was appointed Chief of General Staff in 1993 and Vice Chairman of the Provisional Ruling Council in 1994, powerful positions that showed the power he had under Abacha. Indeed, he was quoted as saying, “I would have regretted if I had not served in that government.”

After escaping death by execution under the same government, Diya had his sentence commuted to a 25-year jail term by Abacha’s military successor, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, before he was eventually set free.  He was later pardoned in 2013 under the President Goodluck Jonathan civilian administration.   

Even after his hard time under Abacha, he was reported to have countered public criticism of the tyrannical regime, saying it “assembled one of the best cabinets ever in the country.”

His role as a major player in the anti-democratic regime, whether volitional or forced, was ultimately against the people and counter-productive for the country.

Although he became a casualty of power play in the regime, it did not redeem his collaboration with the dictator.  He denied involvement in the alleged coup plot, and maintained that he was framed, but was unable to prove that he had not been part of the plot at any stage.

There were two notable assassination attempts on him, allegedly by Abacha’s loyalists, before his arrest and trial for treason alongside others. His fall reflected the unravelling of military rule in the country caused by internal conflicts within the military.   

In post-humous tributes, President Muhammadu Buhari said as a military officer he “was known for his brilliance, exceptional organisational skills, and discipline,” and Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Lucky Irabor said he “made positive impacts on the Armed Forces of Nigeria he served meritoriously for 33 years.” 

Born in Odogbolu, in present-day Ogun State, Diya was trained at the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna, and the US Army School of Infantry. He also attended the Command and Staff College, Jaji, and the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies. He studied Law at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, during his years in the military. 

He fought in the Nigerian Civil War (1967 -1970), was military governor of Ogun State (1984 -1985), General Officer Commanding 82 Division, Nigerian Army in 1985, Commandant, National War College (1991–1993) and Chief of Defence Staff.

His political role was a result of military intervention in Nigerian politics. Significantly, Diya and his military co-adventurers unwittingly demonstrated the anomaly of military rule.   

After his years in power, he observed in a 2015 interview: “Now, I’m a grown-up person. I prefer to remain in the backseat and watch events from the sidelines. When it needs correction or need for you to voice out completely, you say it.” This perspective is a lesson for the country’s military. Its members should shun political adventurism, which is usually a path to unexplained wealth at the expense of the people.  

 ”I was saved by the grace of the Almighty God. Life belongs to God. It is His to give and take at a time decided only by Him,” he said in a moment of thankfulness. This is a point to ponder.

Source: Thenationonline

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Op Ed

Tinubu’s Advantage Of Disadvantage

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Tinubu: I Won't Disappoint Nigerians

Any person who is a lover of books must endeavour to read a book titled: “David and Goliath” authored by Malcolm Gladwell, the famous author of Tipping Point. David and Goliath is a practical yet philosophical exploration of the Advantage of Disadvantage as well as the Disadvantage of Advantage.

I want to contextualise the recent presidential election bearing this philosophy in mind. Asiwaju Bola Tinubu had said before the election that it was his turn to be President. It seemed like a statement of entitlement and that word emilokan has earned a place in our political vocabulary.

But he did not fully know what hurdles had been piled on his path from several angles. It was when he wore his battle gear and went into the field of battle that it dawned on him that he may have underestimated the roadblocks he needed to scale over on his way to Aso Rock Villa.

He may have been aware of the plot to shoehorn the Senate President Dr Ahmed Lawan into the office if all things were equal. But all things were not equal so the plot flopped because the god of fairness was on duty. If anyone deserved to be supported by President Muhammadu Buhari to succeed him it had to be Tinubu.

Tinubu it was who gathered together along with a few other persons, a number of rickety parties, stitched them together to form the all-conquering APC that had the vigour to defeat a sitting President in the presidential election of 2015. And Buhari became President.

And then came the currency issue, which was said to be targeting Tinubu, a kind of Frankenstein’s monster. If the currency matter imposed unbearable hardship of the people it was bound to reflect badly at the poll on whoever was the flagbearer of the ruling party. And in this case Tinubu would receive the anger of the voters at the polling booth.

Besides, the low rating of Buhari’s performance in office was likely to have, even remotely, a negative effect on Tinubu in the eyes of the voters. Well-informed voters would acknowledge that Tinubu held no office and could therefore not be held responsible for the faults of the Buhari government but other voters were likely to lump both the candidate and the government in power together and judge them harshly. That would affect Tinubu negatively.

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) had shown itself to be a fair organisation when it asked Christians to vote according to their conscience without necessarily bearing a religious bias. This seemed to give Tinubu, a Muslim who had chosen another Muslim, Shettima as his running mate, the all-clear.

Besides, his wife Oluremi is a pastor in one of the Pentecostal Churches, which is an indication that he is an open-minded person in matters of religion. Despite this, the religious hawks still thought that he did not give appropriate recognition to Christianity otherwise he would have chosen a Christian as his running mate.

They piled pressure both discreetly and blatantly for Christians not to vote for Tinubu. That may have had an impact on Tinubu’s defeat in Lagos by the Labour Party candidate Mr Peter Obi.

As the youths were massing up in various rallies for different parties in Lagos it may have crossed Tinubu’s mind that the EndSARS activists had made him a target of their attacks two years ago. They set ablaze some of his assets at his newspaper, The Nation and Television station, TVC. How would they respond to him this time that he is actually a candidate? Would they support or scorn him? That was a question to which there was no immediate answer but the fact that there was a youth revolution with Obi as the exponent posed an immediate danger to his electoral survival in Lagos and elsewhere.
Even the fact that the Igbos had been asking, fairly, for a President of Igbo extraction was a source of likely irritation to non-Igbo candidates. Some persons from Yorubaland including former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Afenifere had been campaigning for an Igbo presidency with Peter Obi as the candidate. This viewpoint was likely to catch the attention of fair-minded persons in a cosmopolitan city like Lagos with the virtues of exceptionalism. Is that why Obi did very well in Lagos? Possibly.

As the campaign progressed Tinubu was being dragged to court by various persons for various reasons. In addition, some media, especially social media, were also openly hostile to Tinubu. His inability to appear at the town hall meetings organised by Arise Television was also a problem that expanded into an open confrontation between the news organisation and his campaign organisation. It took the intervention of elders in the media profession for the matter to be resolved but the residue of that conflict remained.

When the presidential election results for Lagos were released Obi of Labour Party stunned everyone by beating Tinubu and the candidate of the PDP Mr Atiku Abubakar. The results: APC 572, 606, LP 582, 454, NNPP 8, 442 and PDP 75, 750. Amazingly the results for the Senate and House of Representatives in Lagos largely favoured the APC. All the three APC senatorial candidates namely Ms Idiat Adebule, Wasiu Eshinlokun Sanni and Tokunbo Abiru won the elections.

Also the APC won 20 of the 24 seats for the House of Representatives. So if the APC was so dominant in the two elections why was that dominance not extended to the presidential so that Tinubu who has been a fixture in Lagos for more than 20 years would win? My explanation is that the god of fairness never wanted him to win in Lagos so that it would not be said that he rigged it. You can only rig elections where you have reasonable control.

Without winning in Lagos the votes earned by Tinubu in other places look valid. Any talk about rigging in other places will look misplaced because if he did not rig in Lagos he would not be expected to rig in other places where he had no control. That is the advantage of disadvantage.

All of these problems were piled up on Tinubu’s path yet he won. That is the lesson from the battle between the giant Goliath and the shepherd boy David. The giant Goliath was six foot nine inches tall, wearing a bronze helmet and full body armour. He carried a javelin, a spear and a sword. An attendant preceded him, carrying a large shield. The giant asked the Israelites to choose one person to come and fight him. The shepherd boy David offered to confront the giant. And he won.

Mr Gladwell has explored several of such conflicts in his book and he believes that the act of facing imponderable odds in lopsided conflicts often produces greatness and beauty. Secondly, he thinks that we often misread such conflicts because the same qualities that appear to give them strength are often the sources of great weakness.

The options are always these: shall I persevere or give up? Should I play by the rules or follow my own instincts? Or should I strike back or forgive? Tinubu did not give up; he followed his own instincts; he struck back with tenacity and doggedness. He did not give up in the midst of the crisis that he faced all through the campaign and election.

The crisis did not unfaze him. John F. Kennedy, the former President of the United States of America said something about the word “crisis” many years ago. He said that when written in Chinese the word “crisis” is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity. Tinubu saw the danger and ignored it. He also saw the opportunity and embraced it. That was the advantage of disadvantage.

Those who believe that it is God that chooses leaders must inevitably accept that Tinubu would not have been President-elect today if God had not sanctioned it. See the array of roadblocks put on his path yet he triumphed. There must have been three gods in his corner:

(a) The god of compensation that ensured that the man who fought for the actualisation of June 12 elections and who fought Sani Abacha from here and abroad for democracy must be compensated.

(b) The god of fairness – Nigerians from all parts of the country want to have a country that is united and inclusive. That is why they subscribed to the rotation of the presidency as an article of faith. After eight years of Buhari’s presidency it ought to move to the south. Southern Governors said so. Northern Governors said so but some politicians out of greed, said No to the idea. That is why the god of fairness did not favour them in the election.

(c) The god of reciprocity: For the fact that some persons tried to block Tinubu from accessing the presidency when it is actually President Buhari who in obedience to the god of reciprocity should have been the champion of Tinubu’s project, he was bound to be rewarded.

These three gods were in Tinubu’s corner. That is why he won, warts and all. They gave him the advantage of disadvantage, a winning formula.

By Ray Ekpu

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